Saturday 22 April 2017

An Interview with Marty Harvey from SLOMATICS and WAR IRON

With today's announcement of SLOMATICS headlining the first Gizzard Fest in Rotherham, where you can find all the details here.

I've been a fan of Slomatics for a long time now. They have released a string of acclaimed albums and they're a major influence on the mighty CONAN. I wanted to interview one of the guys from Slomatics for ages but I never got round to it until now.

I caught up with Marty Harvey (Drums/Vocals) to discuss his role in Slomatics, festival appearances and their acclaimed 2016 album – Future Echo Returns. So sit back and enjoy this epic interview. I apologize now when we start discussing our beloved football team – Newcastle United.


Hi Marty. Thanks for doing this interview. Before we start discussing your upcoming appearance at the Gizzard Fest in Rotherham. We need to discuss your current album – Future Echo Returns which was released last year. That album has won a considerable amount of praise from fans and critics alike. Has the responses surprised you all within the band.

I think getting any kind of praise is always cool, whether it’s after a show or reading something on a blog/review, it’s a recognition of time spent writing, practising and all the other behind the scenes stuff that happens to make an album, but truthfully we’re still surprised when we get it. It’s definitely not something we set out to get or crave by any means. I suppose since A Hocht, then Estron there had been a building response from fans and critics, so with the release of Future Echo Returns, I guess the momentum with whatever praise we got from those albums continued. But it would seem Future Echo Returns has gained the most attention yet.

Did you ever expect it to be embraced the way it is. Excellent reviews and appearing on a wide range of best album of the year lists.

When writing music, reviews and end of year lists simply don’t feature as a reason to do what we do. We play music together simply for fun and to please our ears!! When we play live or people buy our music I always find it humbling that music we’ve made is discussed or considered to be held in the same regard as bands who have been on the scene for years touring, recording and playing live.

Did you know you had something special on your hands before you released it.

Can’t say we did, can’t say we do now!!! As the music started to come together and we jammed out sections it became apparent that there was more melody this time around and more use of synth textures and vocally a decision by myself to try more harmonies. Musically we feel it’s probably the most complete album we’ve done.

What was the overall experience this album compared to other albums that you’ve recorded.

From a recording perspective A Hocht and Estron were recorded in Start Together Studios, Belfast by Rocky O’ Reilly, both in their entirety, with Future Echo Returns we took a decision to use both Start Together and Skyhammer. Chris Fielding (Bass Player, Conan/Producer @ Skyhammer) has produced some great sounding music with some great bands and the overall approach to how he recorded and got such great sonics was something we were interested in. We were curious to see how he used his skills with our music. We recorded all drums, guitars and vocals at Skyhammer over 2 sessions, with a middle session held at Start Together to use Rocky’s vast array of vintage keyboards and synths. So recording in 2 different studios with sufficient time in between sessions gave us time to fine tune the recordings and see what did and didn’t work!!

Did you do anything differently when recording this new album. Your vocals are different compared to other albums you’ve recorded with Slomatics.

There was really nothing too different from a technique perspective that I did largely different vocally. Lyrically I come up with ideas fairly quickly once the music has been written. When we are playing through/practising songs without vocals I am coming up with vocal melodies in my head and trying to phrase them so I can sing and play drums at the same time!! This is something I’ve got better at doing over the years. I do feel that I’m developing a style that suits me vocally and hopefully using melody/harmonising more in the songs.

As you’re now signed to Black Bow Records. How did all that come about. Though Slomatics are a major influence on the label owner Jon from the mighty CONAN

Black Bow Records, as you say, we’re now signed to. It was kind of a natural progression. Jon’s label has developed with his repertoire of artists and to be a part of his label is a really cool thing for us. It was an easy decision when we chatted.

You’re also performing at Roadburn and Psycho Las Vegas later in the year. Did you ever expect to be performing on the international stage such as those two awesome festivals. What’s the current mood within the band in regards to performing in both festivals.

To be asked to play shows that us as fans would want to attend due to the amount of really cool bands on the bill is a great thing. I’ve been to Roadburn a few times and had some great experiences as a fan, going back as part of the festival is going to be awesome. We played the Incubate festival a few years ago, playing the Green Room Stage in the 013, this time round we will be back on the same stage.

Psycho Las Vegas festival was something which came totally out of the blue. Truthfully I had never heard of it. Getting approached to play a show in Las Vegas doesn’t happen everyday!! It’s something which we have talked about, playing in USA, but due to real life stuff like family and work, it was something which we feel would not have happened. But it all seemed to come together and so in August Slomatics are playing their 1st American show. Naturally we’re excited!!

What can people expect from those two shows.

More of the same, but now with added cool visuals that have been put together by Dermot Falloon who did our “Electric Breath” video.

Now you’re headlining the Gizzard Fest gig which Chris from United in Fuzz and Spaztik Munkey is currently arranging. How did that come about. A lot of people will be genuinely excited for that gig.

This is gonna be a head scratcher when the readers are checking this answer out…there are 2 Chris’s and 2 Dave’s!! We were approached by Chris (Festival Organiser) and we couldn’t refuse. The whole set up seemed like something we would all be into. It’s based at a pub with nice ale, so seems like a no brainer!! Chris (Festival Organiser)is good mates with Dave Main (D*A*M Guitar Pedals) and Chris (Slomatics) and Dave (Slomatics) wax lyrical about Dave Main’s pedals as both use them in their set up. So it all seemed like a cool and fun show to do, something when we look at doing shows is a prerequisite!!

Chris has arranged some exciting bands for that gig. Which bands are you currently looking forward to.

Well it’s a 12hr celebration of all things heavy, loud and fuzzy!! What’s not to like!! And all happening in an outdoor marquee with fine cask ales!! So, I’m looking forward to checking out all the bands, some of which I’ve heard of and others I’ve yet to experience. That’s what is really cool about bills like this, you get to see and hear bands that you normally would not get an opportunity to do so.

Is there any chance that Slomatics do a proper UK tour. Instead of one-off dates here and there. Or is it too expensive to do at the moment.

When looking at the logistics of doing a show it’s an obvious thing to factor in finances when a promoter approaches you. So in accepting a gig we are always up front about our costs, generally promoters are aware of our travelling needs from Northern Ireland to mainland UK/Europe and assist accordingly. Touring is something we’re just not into as a band. We all have other commitments with work and family so getting away for a few dates for specific shows is how we like to do it.

You’ve been part of Slomatics since 2011. Did you ever expect the journey the band has taken you on. Three full length albums and a few split EP’s as well. How did you become involved with Slomatics for people who don’t know your history with the band.

I’ve known Dave since we were kids at school and Chris for about 20 years when he stumbled up on stage to play a guest spot for a band me and Dave were in, guesting on a theremin!! Me and Dave were in a band called Cosmonaut, mainly an instrumental stoner band, with Joe the original Slomatics drummer on bass.

We changed the band set up to include Baggy (War Iron) on vocals and Chris joined on guitar, we did our thing for a good number of years, calling it quits in 2004, Dave, Chris and Joe formed Slomatics, me and Baggy formed War iron. I got a call from Dave asking would I stand in for a while until they found a new drummer after Joe left, I said I’d help out for a few months, so 6 years on they still haven’t found a replacement, they seem happy enough with the current stand in!!!

When I joined Slomatics there was no need to get used to playing styles, having played with the guys for years, so it was an easy enough transition for me. I was a fan of the band beforehand and knew they had a number of releases behind them, so to add to that back catalogue was cool. There was no real plan, as is still the case!! Since I’ve been with Slomatics, we’ve released 3 albums, a few EPs, split vinyl and played some great shows, recorded music for an animated movie, with new music being written during practice for our next release.

You appear in another great band called War Iron. What is the current state of that band. Will you be recording any new material with War Iron. Or is Slomatics is your main focus.

I drum in War Iron, leaving vocal duties to Baggy with Ross on guitar and Goat on Bass. War Iron were formed by me and Baggy as a result of our band The Naut (also with Chris, Dave and original Slomatics drummer, Joe) splitting up years ago. Chris, Dave and Joe got Slomatics off and running and did great things with Flooding The Weir and Kalceanna and so War Iron got around to releasing The Faceless Sea, The Fifth and Final Sun Albums, a few EPs and a split 7” with Headless Kross. War Iron have just had 2 great shows with Napalm Death and currently weighing up a few options at the moment. I try to split my time with bands equally.

You're involved with The Planet Of Doom film. How did that come about. 

Planet of Doom came about by being contacted by David Paul Seymour, the creative mind behind the animated movie.  Through discussion the project felt it was something cool and something which we had not done before, so it was really appealing.  We were sent rough concepts/stories about our particular theme.  Writing a song to someone else's concepts was an interesting way to write, especially when you have specific time parameters to stick to and a storyboard theme to get across to the listeners. 

You've recorded a new song for that project. Can you tell your fans what people can expect on that new song. Have you seen the final segment of your part of the movie. 

We recorded our song in Start Together Studios in Belfast with Rocky O'Reilly over the course of a weekend and it was pleasing when David Paul Seymour heard it.  It fitted his brief and told the specific story of the themes we were given...relief!!  The song itself sounds like Slomatics!!  Can't give too much away until the movie is released, as of yet we have not seen the animation for our part of the movie which our song portrays, but with anything that David Paul Seymour has done we know it's going to be super cool!!

You know I’m going to move away from music and talk about our favourite football team. As we both support the same team – Newcastle United. How did you end up supporting Newcastle United. As I thought you would be supporting Manchester United. As most people I’ve came across from Northern Ireland always support Manchester United. Why our beloved Toon.

As a kid I supported Tottenham Hotspur as I just happened to catch them on TV during one of their European matches and wanted to support a Spurs it was!! It just happened to feature 2 Argentinian players..Ossie Ardiles and Ricardo Villa, I thought they were great, flashy skills and just having a touch more skill than the UK players on the team. I particularly liked Ossie and always followed his career. He left Spurs and I kind of lost interest, as you do as a kid!! A few years later I found out he was managing Newcastle United albeit for a year, then Keegan came into manage when Ossie left. I loved Keegan as a kid, as I watched him on Superstars and as a fickle teenager I changed allegiance to the Toon!! The rest is history.

It’s always hard for ourselves as we haven’t won a major trophy for decades. Though we’re trying to get promoted back to the Premier League. Have you seen a Newcastle United football match. If so, who was it against and what was the final score.

Yeah I’ve been over to see Newcastle a good few times. Seen them play and win, draw and lose. Saw them for the 1st time in 2003 when they were managed by Sir Bobby, then made a point to try and get once a year, saw them fall to bits with John Carver, then each year with Graeme Souness, Glenn Roeder, Sam Allardyce achieve little!!

Keegan came back on the scene and threw the head up and left, wobble under Joe Kinnear and even Shearer that year couldn’t help not get them relegated. Hughton brought the The Toon back up, Carver again made a shambles of things, paving the way for McClaren's laughable tenure and now we’re looking pretty good under Benitez, straight back up to the Premiership!! He just needs to stay and we’ll be back to the good old days that we had under Sir Bob!!

Best moment by far was watching Shearer crack in his 206th goal against Portsmouth in 2006, becoming the clubs all time record goal scorer!! Worst game I was at was v Man Utd beaten 5-0 and I had paid silly money for the tickets!! Enough said!! I am sure none of this football chat is of interest to anyone but you and me Steve!!!

Well Marty, thanks for doing this interview. Much appreciated. I should have done this sooner but I was always too hesitant to ask. Do you have anything to say to your fans before you go.

I’d just like to say thanks to you Steve for your continued support through Outlaws of the Sun and a big thanks to anyone who appreciates our music, whether buying our merch or coming to a show to check us out. If you’re at a gig come over and say “Hi”.

Words by Steve Howe and Marty Harvey

Slomatic Links

War Iron Links